Electricity Markets

APPA Moves To Help Member Utilities Respond To Supply Chain Challenges

The American Public Power Association (APPA) is taking a number of actions to help its member utilities respond to ongoing supply chain challenges in the electric utility sector.

 [This is the final part of a three-part Public Power Current series detailing public power's response to supply challenges].

Groups Send Letter To Energy Secretary

On May 26, APPA was joined by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) in sending a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm in which the groups urged her “to exercise your authority to immediately address a serious supply chain issue facing our members which could result in electric reliability impacts for Americans as we head into the volatile summer weather months and storm season.”

The letter was signed by Joy Ditto, President and CEO of APPA, and Jim Matheson, CEO of NRECA. 

“For months, we have been calling attention to the unprecedented challenges our members are facing in procuring basic equipment needed to restore service following storms and natural disasters,” Ditto and Matheson wrote.

“Transformers pose a particularly acute problem as our members are now facing lead times of more than a year for delivery and in many cases, are being limited in the number they are allowed to purchase. In addition, transformers are critical not only to restoring service but also to extending new service to support economic growth in American communities,” Ditto and Matheson said.

“Therefore, we urge you to temporarily waive the energy conservation standard for distribution transformers to make it possible for manufacturers to increase output as much as possible until this immediate crisis has abated. By relieving manufacturers of the current requirement, raw steel materials used to make distribution transformers can be spread further and result in higher production that our members need. This is a concrete step you can take today to increase transformer availability and address a potential electric reliability issue,” the letter said.

Ditto and Matheson said that they are concerned that if this issue is not addressed quickly, “we could face instances during this upcoming storm season when timely restoration of electric service for some customers simply won’t be possible because of a lack of transformers. As such, we urge you to act without undue delay to increase output for transformers by waiving the energy conservation standard for distribution transformers.” 

APPA Develops Web Service To Facilitate Voluntary Transformer Exchange

Meanwhile, in a recent note sent to APPA members, Ditto said that APPA has developed a simple web service to facilitate voluntary transformer exchange and a policy position brief for members looking to have increased conversations in their communities.

She noted that APPA sees supply chain availability as a reliability concern, so it has decided to utilize APPA’s eReliability Tracker (eRT) web-application to address the immediate member need for information related to voluntary transformer sharing.

As a result, APPA members will be able to contact other utilities with similar voltages to discuss equipment if they have an emergency need.

Equipment sharing will be 100% voluntary, with the goal being to have a process for public power utilities to reach out to each other quickly and efficiently and for APPA to help with other parts of the sector (investor-owned utilities and cooperatives) more quickly when there is a need public power utilities can’t meet among themselves.

If a member utility is already subscribed to the eReliability Tracker service, it will be able to fill out the form when logging in using existing credentials. If a utility is not subscribed to the eReliability Tracker APPA is making the voltage based outreach component of the service free through the end of the year, and if you would like to use the request system, contact APPA Staff at [email protected].

New APPA Supply Chain Issue Brief

APPA’s recently finalized new supply chain issue brief notes for public power utilities, the ability to provide reliable and affordable power to homes, businesses, and critical facilities is foundational to both their business model and the recovery and expansion of the U.S. economy.

APPA members can download the issue brief here.

APPA Holds Supply Chain Summit

In May, APPA convened a supply chain summit that included participation from public power utility officials who discussed their supply chain challenges and mitigation strategies.

For additional details on the summit and what speakers had to say, read the first part of this three-part series on public power and supply chain challenges.

Click here for the second part of the series.